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J Invasive Cardiol. 2007 Aug;19(8):339-46.

Intra-aortic counterpulsation does not improve coronary flow early after PCI in a high-risk group of patients: observations from a randomized trial to explore its mode of action.

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Department of Cardiology, The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, United Kingdom.


The intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) is the most commonly used temporary cardiac assist device. The precise role and the mechanism of any benefit in high-risk patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) have not been fully determined. We hypothesized that the use of an IABP following PCI in high-risk non-shocked patients would immediately increase coronary blood flow, tissue perfusion and hence preserve left ventricular function.


Predefined high-risk, but non-shocked, patients were randomized to either an IABP or no IABP following PCI. Angiography was performed pre-PCI, immediately post-PCI and 10 minutes after the completion of the procedure. TIMI flow grade (TFG), TIMI frame count (TFC) and myocardial blush grade (MBG) were measured. Echocardiographic wall motion index (WMI) was measured on days 1 and 30 following PCI.


Of 33 patients, 17 received IABP and 16 did not. At final angiography, the TFG was 2.8 +/- 0.7 and 2.9 +/- 0.3 (p = 0.6), the TFC was 19.9 +/- 23 and 16.9 +/- 16.9 (p = 0.7), and the MBG was 2.5 +/- 0.9 and 2.5 +/- 0.7 (p = 0.9) in the IABP and the no-IABP arms. The WMI on day 1 was 1.7 +/- 0.4 and 1.7 +/- 0.4 (p = 0.7), and on day 30, it was 1.5 +/- 0.4 and 1.5 +/- 0.4 (p = 0.9). There was no difference in the total sum of ST-segment elevation prior to PCI (12.6 +/- 7.7 vs. 13.5 +/- 7.9; p = 0.8), nor in the summed ST change in subsequent electrocardiograms (ECGs) to 48 hours in both of the groups.


Whether an IABP is of any benefit in non-shocked, but high-risk, patients undergoing PCI remains to be established, but any potential benefit does not appear to be associated with early improvement in coronary flow. Whether the insertion of an IABP improves coronary flow beyond 10 minutes is not known. However, the IABP did not significantly affect subsequent left ventricular wall motion index or ECG ST-segment resolution in this study.

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